- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday called the U.S. Senate’s voting down gun-related measures Monday a “shameful display of cowardice” and lamented the lack of Republicans with the “courage” to stand up to the National Rifle Association.

“What we saw last night on the floor of the United States Senate was a shameful display of cowardice,” Mr. Earnest said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

He said there were “common-sense” bills put forward that “should have drawn strong bipartisan support” that would prevent terror suspects from buying guns and tighten gun-purchase background checks.

“Cowards are people who talk really tough in the hope that they will not be asked to actually act and do something,” he said.

“And the truth is, that’s exactly what Republicans have done,” he said. “Republicans have run around and spent the last week saying ‘radical Islamic extremism’ to anybody who will listen. But when it actually comes to preventing those extremists from being able to walk into a gun store and buy a gun, they’re AWOL.”



“They won’t do anything about it because they’re scared of the NRA. That’s shameful,” Mr. Earnest said.

After the Orlando terrorist attack in which 49 people were killed and more than 50 people injured, many lawmakers felt they needed to do something to respond, with much of the focus quickly turning to guns.

In addition to two measures sponsored by Democrats that failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, two separate GOP-sponsored measures also failed to garner 60 votes.

One from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas would have delayed a gun sale to someone on a terror watch list for up to three days to allow for a period of judicial review, and another from Sen. Charles E. Grassley dealt with reporting mental health records to the federal background check database.

Omar Mateen, the Orlando gunman, had been flagged by the FBI more than one but was ultimately removed from a watch list.

“The president is determined to continue to use his executive authority to do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have [them],” Mr. Earnest said. “We can do that without undermining the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

“We just need to find some Republicans in the Congress with the courage to stand up to the NRA — to work with Democrats and just do common sense things,” he said. “They don’t have to do anything radical.

“But again, we’re not going to see that kind of change in our gun laws until we see a change in the Congress,” he said. “I think that much is clear.”

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is working to craft an alternative proposal on the terror watch list issue.

“If you’re not going to be persuaded by 49 innocent Americans being gunned down in a nightclub, I’m not really sure what’s going to convince you,” Mr. Earnest said. “I’m not sure what’s going to give you the courage to stand up to the NRA.”

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